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Gallery: the cool and strange at Germany’s huge Musikmesse show

It hits you at some point. It could be that you find yourself wandering rows upon rows of accordion exhibitors. Or maybe it’s weaving to avoid parades of the 100,000-odd German schoolchildren who come to look at the exhibits. Or maybe it’s seeing a room the size of an airport full of nothing but strange laser and light products for clubs. But Musikmesse remains something exceptional.

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Kyoka talks about her amazing new raster-noton sounds

raster-noton is already a beloved imprint for those who care about out-there sounds. But if you thought you’d heard every click and oscillation that name could bring, you probably haven’t heard Kyoka – the Japanese-born artist who always manages to wander out into new territory. And even before we had a chance to get the least bit tired of her last outing, she’s fresh from a trip to Stockholm’s EMS with something altogether different. CDM’s Zuzana Friday invites Kyoka over to charm and wow us all over again.

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In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …

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Now you can plug a guitar or stompbox into your Eurorack

At last, the world of modular meets the world of stompboxes. It’s a no brainer: after all, a modular rack already has a lot in common with a crowded pedalboard. I expected that our friends at Bastl Instruments from Czech would come up with something for this week’s Superbooth synth gathering here in Berlin, and sure enough, they’ve got three new modules, with one stompbox-friendly standout.

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Premiere: Lose yourself in these cutting-edge modular productions

Twirling timbres of Tiptop titillate, tantalizingly… a modular synth maker has made its own music label, and to kick things off, CDM gets the premiere of a hypnotic music video. First, the music video, made for the compilation’s opening track by Matt Lange. It’s the work of director Nicola De Luca, and I have to admire its simplicity: an entrancing rotating blossom, sculpted in video in a series of horizontal delays and three-dimensional transformations. Description: The video is a metamorphosis of forms that investigates kinetic connections between the motions of rotation and material decontextualization of objects. It takes inspiration from …

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Remembering Keith Emerson and his titanic synth legacy

In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.

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Eowave’s Ribbon 2 synth-controller is an updated classic

Amidst a bumper crop of new, multi-dimensional hardware, it’s a wonderful time for the expressive controller. But Eowave’s unique boutique instrument is one in the classic mold: a long, touch-sensitive strip that can act as a synth or controller. It’s now updated in a new model called the Ribbon 2.

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Here are all the gear videos from NAMM you should watch

The mighty NAMM show, a mind-bogglingly crowded gathering of basically anyone with anything to do with the sale of musical instruments, brought with it its usual slew of new music tech. Now, you could wade through all the videos from that show, until your brain is numbed by trying to make out rushed, rehearsed product spiels. And you’ll find that some are … well, less important than others. We’ve instead separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you our favorite videos of our favorite new stuff. Grab the popcorn.

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Waldorf build their Eurorack modular into an all-in-one keyboard

This could be the NAMM of modular synths in the Eurorack format. The question is, with vendors big and small crowding into this niche market, what will stand apart? Waldorf’s answer is to draw on the company’s history (hello, wavetables!), and in an announcement this week, to offer up a range of modules that fit into a keyboard. The upshot: an all-in-one solution.

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Dark, unexpected sounds of Triple Sun, Jonáš Gruska (Berlin Wednesday)

Triple Sun – Sprint from Martin Blažíček on Vimeo. From Bratislava, the duo Triple Sun are making spontaneous, ethereal music with a combination of modular and computational tools. Against a flickering black-and-white film, this video last year is one of my favorites. We’re inviting Triple Sun this week to Berlin along with Jonáš Gruska as part of a live program, so I want to take a second chance to explore what they’re doing.

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